Sex Roles

, Volume 56, Issue 1–2, pp 45–53 | Cite as

The Role of Self-objectification in Women’s Depression: A Test of Objectification Theory

  • Dawn M. SzymanskiEmail author
  • Stacy L. Henning
Original Article


Objectification Theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21:173–206, 1997) postulates that sexual objectification of women and girls in US culture contributes to women’s mental health problems indirectly through women’s internalization of objectifying experiences or self-objectification. The purpose of this study was to test the model proposed in Objectification Theory as it applies to depression in women. A path analysis revealed that self-objectification decreased with age and led to habitual body monitoring, which led to a reduced sense of flow, greater body shame, and greater appearance anxiety. Less flow, greater body shame, and greater appearance anxiety led to depression. No significant pathways were found for the theorized relationships between the self-objectification measures and internal awareness or between internal awareness and depression. In addition, we provide psychometric support for a newly created multiple-item Flow Scale to assess Csikszentmihalyi’s (Flow: The psychology of optimal experience, Harper, New York, 1990) description of the common characteristics of peak motivational states and optimal experience.


Flow states Peak motivational states Body shame 



We thank Kathy Kufskie for her assistance with data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Tennessee—KnoxvilleKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of Missouri—St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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